Net Neutrality 2 July 11, 2006
In last week’s Tech Watch, I talked about net neutrality - particularly the fear that some internet service providers might charge content providers extra to “guarantee” that their content is accessible. I didn’t mention the other boogeyman with respect to net neutrality - throttling.
There is a concern is that ISPs will purposefully downgrade competing services, such as voice over IP (some believe this is already happening). If I have internet phone service through company X and company Y (who offers their own voice over IP) is my ISP, they can reduce the quality of my voice traffic because I’m using a competitor’s service. As a consumer, I think this is definitely uncool, but the issue is whether or not this is a fair competitive practice.
I was reminded of this part of the issue because, via BoingBoing, I just read a great paper on the various issues regarding net neutrality that points out the many complexities on both sides of the equation. It’s also a pretty good primer on how the internet works, written so that most non-technical folks should be able to get a decent grasp of the subject. You can check out the 10-page pdf and read it yourself.